The first ever ‘Sylhet Utsav Festival’ in the UK was lunched on 4 March 2018 at the Brady Centre in the heart of the UK Bengali community, Banglatown, East London.
Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to the UK, Md Nazmul Quaunine, Tower Hamlets Speaker Sabina Akhtar and former MP Shofiqur Rahman Chowdhury inaugurated the festival at the entrance of the Brady Centre. In the opening ceremony the High Commissioner said, ‘I trust the Sylhet Utsav will help to strengthen bond among the people of Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK.’ The Speaker said, ’The spirit of the Sylhet Festival is one of friendship and cooperation.’
Shortly after the inauguration ceremony, current and former councillors including the first MP in the UK of Bengali origin Rushanara Ali, Tower Hamlets Executive Mayor John Biggs and others joined the festival Chairman and Secretary Ahad Chowdhury Babu to deliver their welcoming speech.
John Biggs, Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Rushanara Ali MP for Bethnal Green & Bow also inaugurated a magazine, depicting the history of Sylhet region and the community, to coincide with the event. Mayor John Biggs said, ‘I am delighted to celebrate the achievements of the British Bangladeshi community in the UK.’ while Rushanara Ali MP said she was pleased to celebrate the heritage, culture, food and music of Sylhet & its community.
Guests arriving were served with traditional sweets and paan supari from Sylhet region. Following the formal opening session, the cultural programme started led by Gouri Choudhury & young people from Suraloy school. Local artists performed the songs of Sylhet region, including Dhamal, Baul and wedding songs. The cultural function also included Manipuri performance by Ringku Sinha, Puthi paat and poetry recitations.
A fashion show was also organised by Syeda C displaying fashion and fabric, including traditional Manipuri dresses, saris, lungis, dhotis, from Sylhet region. Organisers of the Festival said the Sylhet Utsav is intended to be an annual celebration of the achievement of this community by celebrating the history, heritage, culture, food and music of Sylhet and its community. Master of ceremonies for the whole event were Ahad Chowdhury Babu, Syeda Saima Ahmed, Munira Parvin & Joya Qureshi. The day long event concluded with Vote of thanks from the Utsav Co-Chair Jamal Khan.
The Side Hall was kept for adda/networking/reunion and a number of food, pita, clothing, & display stalls and a Sylhet Utsav Vox pop was installed in the reception area.
The Festival was organised by Sylhet Utsav Udjapon Committee, UK 2018 in association with Amra Sylhetbasi, Sylhet Sahar Sammiloni & Nekh Foundation with the assistance of Bangladeshi electronic & print media and businesses.